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Why don’t we evangelize the rich?

17 Aug

Something I have thought about from time to time: why don’t more churches target the wealthy, as a group?

Sure, we have missionaries and ‘mission trips’ to Third World countries; there are a number of churches operating inner-city missions and soup kitchens, etc., minstering to the homeless, the hungry, the poor, alcoholics and drug addicts and whores in the streets, etc. There are ethnic outreach ministries, targeting ethnic minorities in big cities with services in their own language (along with ESL lessons, citizenship classes, and the like). There are prison ministries and chaplaincies, sharing Christ’s message of hope with those in prison. There are chaplaincies in the armed forces, to police and firefighters, etc., ministering to those who put their lives on the line for the rest of us. There are youth ministries; seniors’ ministries; couples’ ministries, men’s ministries, women’s ministries, etc.

But why not a ministry to the well-off?

I’m not sure exactly how we such a thing might be accomplished, though I can think of how NOT to do it: don’t do it when you’re supposed to be doing something else. If any of you have seen the 2000 movie ‘The Big Kahuna’ (and if you haven’t, you should; a great drama that’s akin to a stage play, mostly focused on the interactions between three men in a hospitality suite in a hotel; Kevin Spacey is great as always), you may recall the young evangelical new employee who proselytizes the boss of a company whose business the three men are courting for their own company, rather than trying to sell him on their product – the reason they were there, in a hotel far from home. Not wise.

But his discussing matters eternal with ‘The Big Kahuna’ at a cocktail party did make me think: why not such a setting? If people will go into the inner city and prepare and serve meals at soup kitchens (I did so with a church group at the church I attended in the Albany, New York area when I lived there for a year), why not hold a cocktail party at a lounge somewhere, targeting the type of people who would go for such a thing? (This would of course only work for the kinds of churches that are comfortable with alcoholic beverages, whether personally partaking or simply being comfortable around others doing so.) Or a dinner cruise aboard a yacht, or a formal dress ball, whatever?

I know; I just posted a rant about glorified vacations in the form of ostensible ‘mission trips’, and I’d hate to see the same thing happen with such a ministry to the rich – or for non-rich people to be ‘posers’, dressing up and acting like something they aren’t, just for kicks, or to try to make business contacts to get ahead (the reverse of what the evangelical character in ‘The Big Kahuna’ did), etc. Which is why I’d prefer rich Christians themselves, those who already live the lifestyles of the well-heeled, who can afford to put on such events, who own such yachts, etc., to volunteer to organize such things themselves, for their non-believing counterparts, rather than the middle-class and poorer, who can’t afford to live that way often and for whom such things aren’t normal, everyday kinds of events.

What do you say, rich brethren and sisters?

What have you got to lose, other than perhaps of course your worldly respectability. 😉

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15 Comments

Posted by on August 17, 2016 in culture, religion, spirituality

 

15 responses to “Why don’t we evangelize the rich?

  1. infowarrior1

    August 17, 2016 at 8:08 am

    Sure why not although as Jesus said its hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. Worldly riches are deceptive and imperils the souls of the wealthy. As much as extreme poverty imperils the souls therein.

     
    • Will S.

      August 17, 2016 at 10:54 am

      Indeed, which is why it’s all the more important to try to reach them. We often go to great lengths, as churches, to try to reach the poor and vulnerable; why not have as much concern for, and zeal to reach out to, the rich?

       
  2. feeriker

    August 17, 2016 at 1:43 pm

    It seems to me that unless they’re already saved and living the lives of Christ-followers, the rich seldom ever respond to outreach until they’ve reached the point in their lives where they’re at the point of despair and complete collapse. It’s really all about timing and reaching out to wealthy individuals when they’ve had the epiphany that wealth != happiness or fulfillment and that they’re ready to start anew.

     
    • Will S.

      August 17, 2016 at 1:51 pm

      True enough. But that’s where I figure rich Christians can come in: to be peers, witnessing the faith to their fellow rich folk, as peers, from whom they are more likely to be receptive, rather than from those they might consider beneath them.

       
  3. weak stream

    August 17, 2016 at 3:01 pm

    The rich (not the ones that became rich ‘skimming’ off of the Big Con, but actual value adders) have been vilified and demoralized by churches themselves. Pope Francis, our first Communist pope has communicated that anyone that’s got more than you is Satan. Point taken, and these kinds of people are tired of the abuse and, I think, at this point, are hiding waiting for the storm to blow over.

     
    • Will S.

      August 18, 2016 at 1:53 am

      No doubt socialists in Christian guise have been off-putting to the rich. But that isn’t the problem of more traditionalist, conservative churches. We just haven’t been reaching them…

       
  4. Peter Blood

    August 17, 2016 at 9:19 pm

    To reach the rich, you have to have the $$$ to make it interesting to them. There’s a high upfront cost to do it. The middle-class isn’t going to bust a gut making financial sacrifices for the rich.

     
    • Will S.

      August 18, 2016 at 1:55 am

      Agreed; hence why I emphasized in my OP that I think it will have to be wealthy Christians who reach out to their fellow wealthy folks, and do this kind of thing. The church should encourage it, and help wherever and however it can, but it may be more along the lines of prayer and moral support and encouragement, as well as literature / tracts, if such might be useful.

       
      • feeriker

        August 18, 2016 at 9:22 pm

        Agreed; hence why I emphasized in my OP that I think it will have to be wealthy Christians who reach out to their fellow wealthy folks, and do this kind of thing.

        Care would have to be taken (probably excessive care, in fact) to make sure that it doesn’t appear to be “all about the benjamins.” If I were a rich non-believer, I would, to be honest, probably be highly suspicious of any attention paid to me by evangelical Christians. Evangelical churches in recent decades have acquired a well-earned reputation for fiscal irresponsibility, especially the larger megachurches. As a non-believer, my very first thought would probably be “they’re interested in my checkbook, not my soul.” Maybe for this reason it has been difficult to evangelize to the wealthy, which is why not a lot of visible effort has been put into it. That and the fact that wealthy evangelical Christians who would evangelize don’t exactly exist in staggering numbers.

         
      • Will S.

        August 19, 2016 at 2:47 am

        Indeed, that would be a challenge.

        Well, as someone who isn’t an evangelical (in the contemporary North American sense of that term; only in the British / European and/or archaic sense of the term), but rather trad Reformed, I’m not hoping for evangelicals to target them, but more traditionalist confessional Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox churches, who shouldn’t have the baggage that evangelicalism does.

         
      • infowarrior1

        August 19, 2016 at 10:26 pm

        ”but more traditionalist confessional Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox churches, who shouldn’t have the baggage that evangelicalism does.”

        They lump us prots in with evangelicals though. So even if we are Trad Protestant they will still regard us as evangelical.

         
      • Will S.

        August 20, 2016 at 1:00 am

        I know many folk do, infowarrior1, but I trust that many if not most of this blog’s regulars understand the distinction, and agree with the need for it.

         

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